Can we be honest?
How engaging are your blog posts? How fascinating? How persuasive?
When I started blogging, my writing was dreadful. Too corporate. Too boring. Too many trains of thought. And of course, too much focus on search engine optimization.
Pick a keyword phrase, use it in your headline, write 700 words. Ready. Publish.
Blogging isn’t so simple anymore.
To gain attention and to win customers, you need to engage and persuade. You need to stand out.
Seduce with attention-grabbing headlines
Nobody reads blog posts with dull headlines.
Nobody shares them. Nobody comments on them.
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
If you want potential customers to read your blog, you need to tempt them with tantalizing headlines. A few simple rules:
1. Your headline needs to promise a benefit
Promise a potential reader what he’ll learn when he reads your post. Be as specific as you can. A potential reader wants to know you won’t be wasting his precious time.
This headline is specific. It’s not just about writing. It’s about writing product descriptions.
If you’ve ever had to write product descriptions, you know it’s a tough, draining job; and you’d love to find out how to write descriptions that help you sell more products. That’s a clear benefit; and it attracts the right audience to the post.
2. Power words grab attention
Emotional, sensory, and unusual words stand out. Include at least one power word in your headline.
An example: How to Write Seductive Sales Copy Like Apple
Seductive is a power word. A word like seductive conjures up images and emotions. You can’t ignore the word. You can’t read it without paying attention.
Using a celebrity name or well-known brand name like Apple also arouses curiosity. Which copywriter or marketer doesn’t want to learn from Apple copywriters?
Negative power words are also compelling. For instance: 13 Warning Signs Your Web Copy Stinks
That’s one of my favorite headline formulas (stolen from Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks): A numbered list that warns you that something stinks or sucks is almost a sure-fire winner.
3. Numbers stand out
Well-written lists are easy to consume, and everyone will find something useful in a long list. Start a headline with a number, promise a benefit, and add one or two power words makes your headline a winner.
Why does this headline work so well?
- It starts with a high number. The higher the number, the more shares you’ll get.
- It’s specific. It’s not just about editing in general, it’s about editing web copy.
- It’s a double whammy headline. Two headlines are merged into one: 27 Editing Tips is a short headline on its own. How to Make Your Web Copy More Engaging, Credible, and Persuasive is a good headline.
- It includes a clear benefit. These editing tips make your web copy more engaging, credible, and persuasive. I’m not sure persuasive on its own is a power word, but the trio Engaging, Credible, and Persuasive definitely is powerful.
To add sparkle to your headlines, study successful headlines on popular blogs. You’ll start to recognize the formulas that work. Steal the formulas and apply them to your topic.
Make your content sizzle
A corporate tone of voice – generally recognized by the frequent use of complicated words, the appearance of particularly long sentences, and the passive voice – is difficult to read and boring for your readers.
That’s 38 words. And it doesn’t work.
To make your writing sparkle, you must cut long sentences and skip bland words.
Read through your draft text to look for long sentences. Aim for a maximum of 12 words per sentence on average. Examine all sentences with more than 15 words. Take the following actions:
- Cut a long sentence into two or three separate sentences. You can usually cut a sentence where you use words like but, because, and and.
- Try to eliminate unnecessary words. Reduce the number of adjectives and adverbs – especially words like really, obviously, and generally.
- Use a more conversational tone. Imagine talking to your reader. Try to use the word you.
- Swap bland for stronger words.
You can rewrite that horrible first sentence of this section like this:
How do you recognize a corporate tone of voice? It’s boring as hell. Because it uses long sentences, difficult words, and the passive voice.
That’s 24 words instead of 38; and only 8 words per sentence on average. And the message comes across much stronger.
The truth about creating a sparkling business blog
Readers don’t follow you for wishy-washy advice. They look for a strong voice. They look for opinions to guide them.
To create a successful business blog you need to cut your ifs and buts. Phrases like in my opinion, perhaps, and I think lower your perceived authority.
You don’t need to be controversial. But you do need to be authoritative.
Clear voices sparkle. Strong opinions fascinate.
You need to know your stuff. And share it with conviction and passion.